|Weekly News Digest
July 20, 2009 — In addition to this week's NewsBreaks article and the monthly NewsLink Spotlight, Information Today, Inc. (ITI) offers Weekly News Digests that feature recent product news and company announcements. Watch for additional coverage to appear in the next print issue of Information Today. For other up-to-the-minute news, check out ITI’s Twitter account: @ITINewsBreaks.
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Altarama Announces New Screen-Sharing Teaching Tool
Altarama Information Systems (www.altarama.com) announced RefTutor, a new concept for teaching online information-seeking skills, using screen-sharing technology for tasks that, until now, have needed the often unreliable co-browse technology. RefTutor will be integrated with all of Altarama's reference service provision products, appearing initially in VRLplus online reference in August. Soon after, it will appear in RefTracker request management and then in RefChatter online reference using instant messaging, with servicewide integration of statistics from all service delivery methods ultimately in RefTracker.
RefTutor sessions will allow librarians to share their desktops with the patron, in an easy-to-use environment that includes integrated chat, video, and VoIP features-exactly the features librarians have wanted to be able to successfully teach online information-seeking skills. It is totally web-based, and patrons can participate in a session without a download.
Arthur Brady, president of Altarama (USA), says, "Its key importance is that it provides another way that information professionals can communicate with their patrons within the Altarama suite of products that already provide a range of ways of communicating with patrons as well as comprehensive tools for managing the request answering processes of information delivery organizations like libraries, museums, archives and records management organizations."
Altarama (USA) and Altarama (Australia) are privately held companies that have been helping libraries manage their reference operations since 2001, with hundreds of clients around the world. Altarama's owners and managers are librarians and library automation experts who average more than 2 decades of experience in the field.
Source: Altarama Information Systems
Roll Call Acquires Congressional Quarterly
Roll Call Group (www.rollcallgroup.com) announced it has agreed to acquire Congressional Quarterly (CQ; www.cq.com) from the Times Publishing Co. Under the terms of the agreement, Roll Call, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Economist Group (www.economistgroup.com), will purchase CQ to form a new company to be known as the CQ-Roll Call Group.
Each company has a storied and distinct history covering Congress and Washington politics and policy. Since 1945, CQ has been the "publication of record" providing factual, unbiased coverage of congressional activity. In recent years, CQ has been at the forefront of developing internet services that provide real-time intelligence on the workings of Congress.
Roll Call, founded in 1955 and acquired by The Economist Group in 1992, has been at the center of the Capitol Hill community, providing a look into the people, politics, and personalities that drive the legislative process. This focus on community has led to strategic expansion into trade association-based grass-roots mobilization with the acquisition of Capitol Advantage in 2008.
The CQ-Roll Call Group intends to maintain each company's unique editorial voice, and, thus, there are no current plans to eliminate any products. In addition, the great majority of the CQ staff will join the merged organization. Robert W. Merry, president and editor-in-chief of CQ for the past 12 years, will not be retained by the merged company.
CQ was represented by The Jordan, Edmiston Group, Inc. (www.jegi.com), a New York City-based investment bank that specializes in the media, information, marketing services, and related technology industries. Both companies have approved the transaction, which is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to close in 3Q 2009. The Times Publishing Co. had announced its intention to sell CQ early in 2009.
Source: Roll Call Group
Barnes & Noble Launches eBookstore
Barnes & Noble, Inc. (www.barnesandnobleinc.com) announced the launch of the Barnes & Noble eBookstore (www.bn.com/ebooks), which it calls "the world's largest eBookstore," on Barnesandnoble.com. The eBookstore will enable customers to buy ebooks and read them on a wide range of platforms, including the iPhone and iPod touch, BlackBerry smartphones, as well as most Windows and Mac laptops or full-sized desktop computers. (The ebooks cannot be read on the Sony Reader or Amazon Kindle.) In addition, Barnes & Noble announced that it will be the exclusive eBookstore provider on the forthcoming Plastic Logic eReader device (www.plasticlogic.com). The ultrathin 8.5" x 11" wireless eReader is slated to debut in early 2010. The eReader will wirelessly connect using the AT&T 3G network.
The eBookstore will offer its customers seamless access to more than 700,000 titles, including hundreds of new releases and best-sellers at only $9.99. The company expects that its selection will increase to more than 1 million titles within the next year, inclusive of every available ebook from every book publisher and every available ebook original, which is a fast-growing marketplace. It will also include more than half a million public domain books from Google, which can be downloaded for free.
The site includes a downloadable upgraded version of its eReader application, which was part of the company's Fictionwise acquisition earlier this year. This device-agnostic ebook application supports both wireless and wired access to the new Barnes & Noble eBookstore. First-time users of the eReader will have the opportunity to download free ebooks, including titles such as Merriam-Webster's Pocket Dictionary, Sense and Sensibility, Little Women, Last of the Mohicans, Pride and Prejudice, and Dracula.
Source: Barnes & Noble, Inc.
Springer Offers Free Access to Swine Flu Research
Springer Science+Business Media is offering all journal articles that deal with the H1N1 virus, or swine flu, free of charge on www.springerlink.com. The articles can be found by using the search term "H1N1." A total of 318 scientific articles will be available to print out or download until Dec. 31, 2009. The company says that by making the articles available it hopes "to push forward scientific research on the causes, cures, and other facets of this virus."
In June 2009, the World Health Organization raised the worldwide pandemic alert level to Phase 6 in response to the ongoing global spread of the H1N1 virus. A Phase 6 designation indicates that a global pandemic is underway. More than 70 countries are now reporting cases of human infection with H1N1 flu.
SpringerLink provides a comprehensive online collection of scientific, technological, and medical journals, books, and reference works. Originally launched in 1996, SpringerLink provides students and researchers with electronic access to more than 33,000 ebooks and 2,000 peer-reviewed Springer journals, as well as 18,000 protocols for laboratories.
Source: Springer Science+Business Media
New ‘Secure Your Funding’ Initiative to Help Libraries
Userful Corp. (www.userful.com) announced the "Secure Your Funding" initiative to help libraries, community colleges, and other public sector organizations apply for and receive Broadband Technology Opportunity Program stimulus money. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) has allocated $7.2 billion to stimulate the development of broadband infrastructure. This includes a minimum of $200 million to expand public computing-center capacity. The federal government began accepting applications for the first $4 billion of funding on July 14. The application period for this round will close on Aug. 14.
The initiative aims to help libraries and other public sector organizations who wish to secure funding by providing a dedicated team of people that these organizations can phone or email to get advice on how to secure funding. The initiative is also providing a series of webinars (online seminars) and resources that provide an overview of the program, eligibility, and tips on how to prepare a successful application to make it easy for organizations to apply with confidence. The first such webinar took place on May 19 with John Windhausen, a Washington, D.C.-based technology funding consultant who served as communications counsel for the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation and who has written numerous studies and white papers on technology funding. A video of the webinar can be seen at http://userful.com/media/webinar/stimulus-bill.
On July 2, the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service (RUS) released a Notice of Fund Availability (NOFA) that describes application procedures and project evaluation processes for the $4 billion first round of funding that opened for applications. A synopsis of the NOFA highlighting the important items that organizations need to know to apply for the public computer center category is available at http://library.userful.com/btop-synopsis.php. All of the money in this round is expected to be granted by Sept. 30, 2010, with two additional rounds of funding expected to follow. Libraries, community colleges, and other public sector organizations who would like to take advantage of this initiative should phone 1-866-873-9126 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Userful, based in Calgary, Alberta, helps libraries achieve and implement sustainable public computing solutions. Founded in 1999, Userful solutions are used in more than 100 countries and are bringing affordable green-desktop computing to millions of users worldwide.
Source: Userful Corp.
Elsevier Introduces Article of the Future Project
Elsevier (www.elsevier.com) announced the Article of the Future project, an ongoing collaboration with the scientific community to redefine how a scientific article is presented online. The project takes full advantage of online capabilities, allowing readers individualized entry points and routes through content while exploiting the latest advances in visualization techniques.
The Article of the Future launched its first prototypes. The key feature of the prototypes is a hierarchical presentation of text and figures so that readers can elect to drill down through the layers based on their current task in the scientific workflow and their level of expertise and interest. This organizational structure is a significant departure from the linear-based organization of a traditional print-based article in incorporating the core text and supplemental material within a single unified structure.
A second key feature of the prototypes is bulleted article highlights and a graphical abstract. This allows readers to quickly gain an understanding of the papers main take-home message and serves as a navigation mechanism to directly access specific subsections of the results and figures. The graphical abstract is intended to encourage browsing, promote interdisciplinary scholarship, and help readers identify more quickly which papers are most relevant to their research interests.
The prototypes have been developed by the editorial, production, and IT teams at Cell Press (an imprint of Elsevier) in collaboration with Elsevier's User Centered Design group using content from two previously published Cell articles. They can be viewed at http://beta.cell.com, where Elsevier and Cell Press are inviting feedback from the scientific community on the concepts and implementations. Successful ideas from this project will ultimately be rolled out across Elsevier's portfolio of 2,000 journals available on ScienceDirect.
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